The following are translated extracts from former Plaid Cymru Dwyfor-Meirionnydd MP Elfyn Llwyd’s new autobiography, Betws a’r Byd.
One morning a pack of papers arrived in the Dolgellau Office – they were very revealing and showed that Welsh Office staff, under the supervision of John Redwood, had prevented staff from sending in European funding applications. It was known that Redwood boasted that he had sent money back to Brussels during his first year at the Welsh Office. Right-wing politicians, like John Redwood, believed in ‘less government’ and for him receiving Brussels money – money that Wales deserved and paid for – was something he would not want to do, if possible.
Other packets of ‘secretly’ marked papers came on the cover of the file. It appeared from the papers that late applications had been made for European funding – and that the applications had been sent back from Brussels because the applications were incorrect. I still do not know who was sending me these files. All I can say is that a short note typed on a different typewriter was always added. The notes were extremely short, such as, ‘From a friend’. In addition, a few packs would be posted in Newport and another in Merthyr and then Cardiff. I realized that these files were completely confidential and very controversial.
I also realized that I had secret papers that might be of use in my discussions with the Secretary of State, John Redwood, and in the following weeks I used them to come up with some catchy and difficult questions for him in the Chamber. The Secretary of State may have suspected that I had inside knowledge, I don’t know, but he was dragging his feet shamefully before agreeing to meet with me to discuss what we could do to lessen the severe blow of losing jobs in Trawsfynydd…
About two to three weeks later I was returning from a 10 pm vote in the House of Commons. I arrived at my flat around 10.30 pm and went to the bathroom for a moment. I saw that there was dust everywhere. I looked up and saw that about a third of the ceiling had been cut very neatly and that someone had come into my flat that way. I ran through the flat and found that every piece of paper had disappeared and the pockets of each suit had been turned inside out. Strangely, the TV was still there, plus a pair of gold cufflinks on the fireplace shelf in the lounge and about £60 in paper money as well. I called the police and within half an hour two police officers arrived. They both naturally went from one room to another and the police officer in the bathroom shouted at the other, ‘Hey, John, come see this.’ I made a cup of tea for the three of us. One of the policemen asked me – what was my occupation. I replied that I was a Member of Parliament and they both smiled at each other. Why the smile? I asked.
‘It’s just,’ said one ‘we don’t often see a job of this quality.’ The two police officers immediately concluded that this was the work of the secret services and as a result I was told not to expect further development from the investigation.
If the theory of the two very experienced police officers was correct, then MI5 has been in the apartment looking for direction – or any information that could lead to the ‘mole’. That night, I found it very difficult to sleep. Naturally worried about the burglary, but also worried about what else they could have done in the flat whilst they were in it. As far as I knew, they could have left something in the flat to cause harm. I understood enough about their dirty tricks to feel extremely uneasy that night and for quite a while afterwards. After all, the ‘establishment’ do not take kindly to having been given ‘the run around’.
A wad of papers, from a source that was clearly close to the Government, somehow came to Adam (Price) and I. These were completely confidential papers stating in verbatim the conversation between George W. Bush, President of the United States and Tony Blair in Texas in September 2002. They had struck a deal to go to war, with Tony Blair agreeing that Britain would stand alongside the United States if the decision to go to war was made. To be more precise, when the decision to go to war was being taken. It was known that we had these documents and it came as a surprise to me that the authorities did not contact us regarding this information. After all, the documents were confidential – highly confidential in fact.
Then a phone call came to the Plaid Cymru Parliamentary office in the Norman Shaw Building near the House of Commons. It was a call from London Police asking if Adam and I would meet two of their officers for a chat. The meeting was organized and was attended by two superintendents from the Met’s specialist department. We were asked if we had received these papers and we said that we received the documents by post, but that the sender(s) were unknown and we had no idea who had sent them to us. We then asked if the papers were still in our possession and we replied that they were in our possession. The officers then moved quickly and announced we had to give them the papers straight away.
We refused to do so and I said that it was not our intention to make the papers public, but if and when a full investigation into the conduct of the Government and the Prime Minister in the period leading up to the war was to be undertaken in future, then we would take the papers to that Inquiry as they would be ‘in the public interest’. In that way, it was my defence against any charge under the Official Secrets Acts. I recall that they both left the room for a while and then returned and said they would have to interview all the parliamentary staff in our office – my response was that they couldn’t interview any of our staff and if they disagreed, then they should arrest me on the spot and Adam as well. The two officers, red in the face, could only stare menacingly at me. I think they realized that I had got the better of them and they both left on a sour note. I warned the staff not to accept any invitation to speak with London Police on this matter. In 2009 the Chilcot Inquiry was set up by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The remit of this inquiry was to look at the behaviour of the Government in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq and also its behaviour during and after the war. True to my word I presented the papers to the inquiry.
In March 2005, I received an invitation to visit Iraq. This was an invitation from the Foreign Office. Four of us had accepted the invitation. Two MPs who, like me, voted against the war, and two who voted in favour. The four of us were Dr. Lynne Jones Labour MP, Sir George Howarth Labour MP and a gentleman named Boris Johnson MP. We were invited to stay in Basra and Baghdad from the twelfth of March until the eighteenth of March.
A party of us was invited to visit Saddam Hussein’s underground headquarters or palace in Baghdad. One of the American generals was protecting the site and controlling access to the premises. When we arrived at the site we found that most of the surrounding buildings were demolished due to the bombing. We entered a huge underground building with marble on the walls and a few gold door handles. The place was like an underground town – almost half a mile long, and as wide too. It is certain that building such a place had cost tens of millions of pounds of Iraq’s rare money. The American colonel asked me if I would like a small piece of marble that had fallen off the walls and I picked up a small piece to commemorate the occasion. At that, the British guide told me not to – but as the American was the chief officer, I kept it. I should emphasize that this was a fairly new marble – the kind found in Soviet buildings and nothing historical or of any value.
A few days after returning home, I saw that Boris Johnson had written articles on our visit to Iraq in The Spectator under the heading ‘The Elfyn Marbles’ – another of his jokes, probably. A few years later it emerged that Boris Johnson had pocketed a small box of cigars belonging to Saddam’s number two, Tariq Aziz, and that bit of information appeared in the media when he was applying for the post of Mayor of London. I can assure you that I did not reveal this fact, since I was blissfully unaware of this before it was made public – and anyway, gutter / sewer politics has never been of interest to me.
Betws a’r Byd by Elfyn Llwyd is available now (£9.99, Y Lolfa).